Kashmir Life has completed first year of its publication – a year that we will remember as painful, challenging but satisfying. Conventional wisdom called for a celebration and the KL team did consider it. But after deliberations, we decided to use this opportunity to remember and narrate the travails journalism in Kashmir passed through in last two decades. More importantly the human tragedies it entailed.
It is tragic that a handful of people remained too occupied in telling the daily stories of happenings to the world that they forgot to tell their own stories – the murders, the arrests, abductions, tortures and the gags. After printing obituaries, the storytellers failed to tell their readers how the families survived after their breadwinners fell in the line of duty.
So the KL team focussed on the survival of the families. Fed on the glamour and power of media, these reporters did not imagine the struggle for survival of these families to be as painful as that of unknown commoners.
These are stories of gore and pain. Saluting the survival of these families was the only way of paying tribute to our colleagues who died for the sake of the institution.
In the limits of time of space we could not have chronicled the whole story of Kashmir journalism. Instead, we choose certain crucial areas. Photographers, for instance, have emerged a harried lot. They become news irrespective of if they are reporting a protest, an encounter or a peace procession. This, despite the fact that some of them have evolved as specialists for covering a conflict and are assigned coverage of major conflicts ranging from Iraq to Afghanistan.
We asked Maqbool Sahil who was booked for espionage under OSA and detained under PSA to write his account. We have a story on Yusuf Jameel, who is no less than an icon in Kashmir journalism. There are a couple of stories about the evolution of media as an industry, as a career in Kashmir, and emergence of women reporters, something that was missing during halcyon days.
We could not include many other aspects, like reiterating the fact that media in any society has a very limited mandate, albeit very crucial. Media merely reflects the happenings on ground. The greatest contribution that a society or a system can make is to let the media to do its job as professionally as possible. Let carrots and sticks not get involved.
To tell our own story, we had to break our own rules, our own set design. Many things happened in Kashmir this week but for Kashmir Life nothing happened because we remained too busy in writing our own story.